The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which must also make you lonely.” from the Broadway play, A Raisin In The Sun
I heard this quote on a Christian radio talk show recently with the host asking listeners if they thought this was true. Caller after caller agreed with this idea, sharing their stories of loneliness.
Aloneness IS a big deal. As I’ve asked people around the country what they are most missing in the walk with God and their calling, the overwhelming response has been the absence of deep, meaningful friendships.
I’m not sure that our “exceptionalness” is the primary reason. Many of us rationalize our drought of deep friendships by our giftedness, our walk with God, our “place in the Kingdom”, our mission or calling. I would venture to say that if our spirituality was extracted from us, we may still not have any deep, meaningful friendships.
I have heard phrases like:
- My spirituality intimidates people.
- I don’t do shallow talk.
- No one sees what I see, hears what I hear, knows what I know.
- No one can relate to my degree of spiritual warfare and spiritual burden.
This view of personal exceptionalness is not healthy, helpful or true.
The truth is that while our life and calling is unique, our heart and journey is common. You and I are exceptional, as are others who have encountered the redemptive work Jesus Christ.
I have heard hundreds of in-depth life stories and have seen my life in every one of them – with different details, but common themes.
The world, the flesh and Satan will use two strategies to isolate, incapacitate and destroy us:
One is diminishment – the thought that no one wants to be with me because my life is so small, mundane and disappointing.
The other is exaggeration – the thought that no one wants to be with me because my life is so large, epic and threatening.
The world wants conformity to one of these extremes. The flesh wants attention by emphasizing one of these extremes. Satan, knowing we are truth seekers, wants us to camp or abide in one of these extremes (distortions).
We are set apart, but not set above, nor set aside.
Our true exceptionalness originates first in our Christ-likeness (the fruit of the Spirit) and secondarily in our calling (the gifts of the Spirit).
The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Gal. 5:22
I believe that if we pursued and possessed the fruit of the spirit in our life we would have to determine how many deep and meaningful relationship we could handle, not how to find one.
So, if I had called-in to answer the question, “Do you think that ‘the thing that makes you exceptional…is inevitably that which must also make you lonely’ ”, I would have said, no. It’s the way that you relate to others with your exceptionalness that make you lonely.
God has told us not to be selfish, not to try to impress others, but to be humble, thinking of others as better than ourself, not to look out only for our own interests, but to take an interest in others, too. (Phil 2:3-4 NLT)
- If my spirituality intimidates people, it may be that I’m trying to impress them.
- If I “don’t do shallow talk”, it may be that I only want to talk about what interest me.
- If I think that no one sees what I see, hears what I hear, knows what I know, it could be that I’ve rarely asked others what they see, hear and know.
- If I believe that no one can relate to the degree of spiritual warfare and spiritual responsibility that I carry, then I’m thinking that I’m better than others
If we, in humility, offer our heart to others verses primarily our gifting, there will be times of laughter and crying, celebrating and sorrow, gain and loss, building-up and tearing down. (Eccl. 3). This is the life that we all have in common.
While our life and calling is unique, our heart and journey is common.